Harper College

Harper College’s University Center adds MBA, two new majors

University CenterHarper College students and community members who want to earn four-year degrees have more choices to do so at the Palatine campus, along with a new opportunity to earn an MBA, thanks to a partnership with Roosevelt University.

The University Center at Harper College partners with four universities – Roosevelt, DePaul University, Northern Illinois University and Southern Illinois University – to offer a variety of bachelor’s degree completion programs.

Starting in the fall, two new bachelor’s degrees will be added – graphic design and human resources management – along with the MBA program, the center’s first graduate-level degree offered by Roosevelt University.

The goal is to meet the needs of students as they enter the job market, said Bob Parzy, associate provost for enrollment services at Harper.

“We look at it from the perspective of what would be something sustainable, that employers value, and that students and partners want,” he said. “People are excited about the direction this is going in.”

To enroll in the bachelor’s degree completion programs through the University Center, students must meet the admissions criteria for the partner universities.

University Center Lobby SignHarper students take about 60 semester credit hours for their associate degree, and about 60 semester credit hours of university courses to earn a bachelor’s degree. The classes are taught by university faculty, or by Harper faculty hired as adjunct instructors by the partner universities.

The programs also are open to community members who have an associate degree from other community colleges, as well as community members who have taken 60 credit hours’ worth of classes at a four-year institution but haven’t earned a degree, said Agnes Szemborski, manager of the University Center and transfer partnerships.

There are great advantages to earning a four-year degree from the university partners through the University Center, rather than enrolling as regular university students: saving on tuition; cutting travel expenses such as gas, parking and public transportation; and remaining in a familiar environment, Szemborski said.

“Our students are loving the experience – being close to home and being able to take classes on site through our partnerships,” she said.

Tuition rates vary by partner. DePaul and Roosevelt offer special tuition rates for University Center students.

“One of the goals was to keep the cost down for our students,” Parzy said. “It’s a pretty affordable bachelor’s degree, when it’s all said and done.”

After starting in 2018 with 13 students, the University Center has grown steadily over the years. More than 600 students are enrolled in four-year programs and more than 150 have graduated with bachelor’s degrees.

“It has exceeded our expectations,” Parzy said, adding the University Center has “great partners” in the four universities. “It’s not just an extension campus, it’s an extension of who (the universities) are.”

Such partnerships are vital, said Erica Poremba, executive director of academic partnerships at Roosevelt University.

“We are committed to serving students at Harper’s University Center and the community. Our partnership is a great one,” she said, “one in which we align programs, student needs and are always focusing on future needs.”

Most bachelor’s degree programs through the University Center are available part-time and full-time, with an average 90% course completion rate, Parzy said.

The MBA program, at $39,270 for 33 credit hours, also will be available part-time and full-time.

“The success rate is very strong and people are graduating. It’s all coming together the way we wanted it to and, more importantly, students are succeeding,” he said.

The University Center helps students align their credits and figure out how to most efficiently get into the program they want. The coursework has virtual components, but at least 50% is done on site at the Palatine campus. “If you want to do something 100% online, the University Center is not what you need,” Parzy said.

The University Center’s partnership with Roosevelt also features degrees in criminal justice, elementary education and health science administration.

The partnership with DePaul offers degrees in business administration, and communication and media; the partnership with NIU offers degrees in computer science, marketing and psychology; and the partnership with SIU offers degrees in accounting and public safety management.

The University Center has begun to have conversations with its university partners to eventually offer STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – programs, Szemborski said. At some point in the future, there might even be a doctorate program, according to Parzy.

“It depends on what our students want to see,” Parzy said. “We are going to evolve as the market evolves.”

Now housed in Building D on the Harper campus, the University Center will move into the new Canning Center when construction is complete in 2026.

Interested students and community members can find out about informational sessions and more at harpercollege.edu/university.

Last Updated: 3/14/24